Home LIFESTYLE Music KYLE Details Wildfires Ravaging His Childhood Home & Calls for Help

KYLE Details Wildfires Ravaging His Childhood Home & Calls for Help

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Text UWVC to 41444 to donate directly to those affected by Ventura County fires.

KYLE makes music that uplifts people in emotional distress. That is his usual role, and he’s happy to play this role, but right now, he’s asking for people to please return the favor as his hometown is in desperate need following devastating wildfires.

The wildfires ravaging Southern California — being called the Thomas fire — burned the 24-year-old rapper’s childhood home in Ventura, California, on Tuesday (Dec. 5). He watched it disintegrate to ash on TV from Los Angeles.

So true to everything he has shown about himself through his music, KYLE ran toward people in need.

He and a friend drove from L.A. to Ventura — a drive KYLE describes to Billboard as looking like “the end of the world.” Imagine driving down the same freeway you drive routinely every day — to and from home — only this time when you reach the part that finally reveals your destination, what usually brings you relief any other day, you see nothing but ash, smoke and flame.

That’s what KYLE, his family, his friends and massive amounts of other people are in the middle of right now. Read KYLE’s full conversation with Billboard about what Ventura is currently experiencing and how you can help.

Just on a personal note: Is everyone you know safe, even if their belongings aren’t?

Yes. Everybody I know personally, their bodies are safe. They’re OK. Because everybody listened to the fire department and the police and evacuated when they needed to. So, luckily, nobody is hurt.

I know wildfires are, at the very least, an annual thing in California. But is this the first time that it’s personally affected you?

Yeah. Definitely. I mean, they’ve always been — I’ve always grown up and known fires out here happen because that’s just California. Especially Southern California — it’s the desert, you know? Technically speaking, it’s just very fire-prone, so that’s something you’re used to growing up in Southern California, but I’ve never witnessed a fire like this before — ever. And I’ve never been personally affected by a fire, other than like walking outside and seeing ash falling from the sky. Like, that’s happened before. But to, you know, watch the home I grew up in burn to the ground — I’ve never experienced something like that before.

Where were you when you first heard that the fires were starting to invade Ventura, your home?

I was in the studio [in Los Angeles] when I first found out. It was late at night — might have been 3 a.m. or something when I found out — and one, it kind of killed the mood of the song. So I stopped doing that and started researching what was happening. It didn’t hit my neighborhood yet when it was burning at 3 a.m. — like, I fell asleep thinking, “Wow, that’d be crazy if it actually hit my neighborhood.” You never think anything like that is gonna affect you. You see all these disasters happen, and you never think they’re gonna happen to you. But then I wake up the next morning [Tuesday], and I turn on the news to see what’s happening and, you know, lo and behold, they’re on my street. Filming my house. And I was like, “Wow.”

You just turned on the TV, and it just so happened to be your childhood home?

Yeah.

I don’t know how else to ask this other than to just ask: What were the emotions coursing through you as you were sitting there, so far away, watching through the news your childhood home burn down? Nothing you could do about it.

Yeah, so a certain level of sadness — obviously — but the emotion I feel like I felt more than that was helplessness and anxiety. Because, at the time, and I’m sure it’s different now — I would hope, at least in Ventura — the fire was zero percent contained. And that was that morning, and my neighborhood was already gone. So, you know, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Wow, how far is this fire gonna continue to spread?” Because my girlfriend still lives there, a lot of my friends still live there, and they live lower on the hill. I thought, “Is the fire gonna get to them? Is my high school gonna burn down?” All these places that mean so much to me. The fire hadn’t been contained at all, so it was still spreading to those places. And so I had this really overwhelming sense of helplessness like, “Wow, I need to do something but don’t necessarily know what to do.” You know? And that’s the biggest issue with natural disasters: Nobody can do anything. Nobody can have an answer. This is strictly Mother Nature reminding us that this is her planet.

So, I read that you called into Beats 1 while you were driving back home last night —

Yeah, it was while I was trying to figure out something I could do.

So what was that drive like? Both emotionally and then also just logistically?

I mean, like I said, emotionally the mood was pretty low but also like at least we’re going out there to help — to try and make some type of change. But then, just from a physical standpoint, once you hit a certain part of the freeway, it kind of turns into this post-apocalyptic-looking world. The sky was just covered in smoke. You see ash falling. And then once you get to — there’s this thing we call the Grade. It’s like coming down into Ventura. You go down a large hill. You can kind of see the whole city, and you just see a bunch of homes and a bunch of hills on fire. It really looked like the end of the world.

Did you drive by yourself? Were you with someone?

No, my friend drove me.

So you got there last night. What have you been doing since you got there?

So, the first thing we did is — even back in Los Angeles, immediately, we tried to call people to see who we could get to help out. My friend Brick actually made a connection with me to Jaden Smith, and Jaden Smith was nice enough to donate nearly 100 cases of water of his water company, JUST Water. So we went out to Ventura, we rented a U-Haul, we started picking up supplies from anybody that had something that could help. He was kind to donate. And then, after we did that, then we took the U-Haul to all the donation centers and gave them the water. They didn’t really have nothing. A lot of the people down here helping are setting it up themselves — everything. So, they didn’t have a U-Haul. All they had was whoever’s truck would pull up. So when we got there, instead of dumping all the stuff on them, we loaded up our U-Haul with as much supplies as we could that other people had brought and drove that to the churches and the donations centers where they were storing all the water.

How would you describe Ventura, right now, where you are?

Um, you know, it’s a little weird. Feels like a bomb just hit. Everybody’s still a little bit on edge, but the beauty of Ventura can’t necessarily be taken away. So, I think, obviously right now moods are really low and a lot of people lost a lot, their homes. But I feel like if people really commit to helping — like last night, I saw the entire community out there helping, so I know that we’re gonna rebuild and we’re gonna bounce back even stronger. We just need the help of everybody else out there listening and reading this article.

Forgive me for my ignorance, but has the fire left where you are now? Has it been contained?

No, no. There are still parts of Ventura that are completely on fire. It’s already burned through my whole neighborhood, but there’s still a lot of parts that are on fire.

When did you last live in that house?

I moved out relatively at kind of like an early age. I moved out when I was like 18 or 19, so that was like 2013 — when I moved out. But my family, up until a year ago, lived in that house. And, I mean, I spent every Christmas in that house. I would still come back there for everything. Ventura has still just been almost like a base of operation for me in my career. We’ve always given back to and always wanted to go be a part of and always still were very active out there. So, I mean, I was at that house a lot.

Where is your family now? Have you talked to them?

Yeah, I have. My mom is pretty upset because that’s a place we just had so many memories at, even if we we’re not living there [anymore]. But my mom actually stays in Vegas now, which is almost kind of a blessing in disguise. At first, I hated it. But, now thinking about it, had they stayed in Ventura, they would have lost everything.

What is your last memory that you had in that house?

Man. You know, I would say, the last memory I had there was spending Christmas. It was Christmas. That was the last memory I have being over there. Probably like wrapping gifts with my Aunt Betsy in her room on Christmas night, getting everything set up for the morning. Yeah, that was last year.

What has your fans’ response been like? And, on top of that, maybe even more importantly, are you pleased with the emergency and government response so far?

The response from fans and just, like I said, friends of mine has been amazing. Really overwhelmed me with a lot of joy because this many people actually care. You know what I mean? You never know how many people are compassionate about something, especially when it’s not happening to you. You just hope somebody’s out there helping. But so many people that are friends of mine have reached out, so that’s been amazing — and then so many fans, too. So many fans have shown their support and also posted the relief number that you can text into to donate. So, that’s all been amazing.

And then from the government side of things, the fire department and the police department and everybody have been working so hard to save so many homes. Around the clock, nonstop. They’ve been doing an amazing job. A massive wildfire is something that’s hard to stop, so I just really tip my hats off to everybody in the fire and police departments for going as hard as they’ve been going.

Finally, most importantly, how can people help?

A quick way that people can help from home is if you guys text “UWVC” to 41444. One hundred percent of those donations will go directly to those affected by the fire — the people who have lost their homes. And it’s really just anything you can donate helps. If you can’t donate anything, if you just spread it somebody else, maybe they can. I just want people to stay calm and know that it’s gonna be all right.



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